Taste Test: Is Mexican Coke Really Any Different from Regular Coke?

Our official Complex Magazine tasters—plus some more rigorous research findings—reveal that Mexican Coke tasting better might be a myth.

  • The official Complex Mexican Coke taste testers. Click through the gallery to read their reactions to a blind sampling.
  • "Honestly, I have no fucking idea, but..." writes Lawrence at the top of his tasting sheet.
  • Regular Coke: "Less 'natural' aftertaste."  Mexican Coke: "'Cleaner' taste in general."
  • Regular Coke: "Mexican Soda—but who knows this shit is difficult!!!! A lot sweeter, more texture."
 Mexican Coke: "Regular coke. More watery. I don't usually drink Coke so I'm probably wrong. By which I mean: Drink water! WATER IS FOR THE KIDS."
  • When he's not writing, Ross is actually a super professional soda taste tester. Obviously.
  • Regular Coke: "American. Heavier carbonation, boring nose."

Mexican Coke: "Mexican. Softer mouthfeel, spicier nose, sweeter."
  • Regular Coke: "This is regular Coke. It tastes faker, like I can imagine it's being poured out in a factory."
Mexican Coke: "Mexican. It tastes sweeter and I like it better, so it's probably not regular coke."
  • We don't think Leigh likes soda very much in general.
  • Regular Coke: Mexican?  Mexican Coke: Shit, I don't know.
  • Regular Coke:"Mexican Coke, because it's less sharp/tart."  Mexican Coke: American. This must be made with corn syrup because it's sweeter."

All photos by Liz Barclay (@liz_barclay)

“I can’t f***king tell,” “One of these is absolutely Diet Coke,” and “I have no goddamn idea,” were just some of the responses we received from from taste testers when we conducted a super-official—but ultimately indecisive—Mexican Coke versus regular Coke taste test with some of our colleagues in the Complex offices.

A lot of fad-loving foodies like to claim that Mexican Coke “is more natural tasting,” and will pay up to $5 for a bottle of the imported soda. There’s even a Mexican Coke Facebook page with more than 9,000 fans. So why did the Complex staff find it extremely difficult to tell the difference between the two Cokes, and why did approximately half of the Complex tasters guess right and the other 50% guessed wrong when faced with the Mexican Coke challenge? (And most of the ones who got it right copped to taking a stab in the dark.)


The answer is a bit complicated, but it backs up some previous evidence that Mexican Coke “tasting better” could be a complete myth. In a 2009 trend piece in the New York Times Magazine, a spokesman for Coca-Cola told the magazine, “All of our consumer research indicates that from a taste standpoint, the difference is imperceptible.”

And, the reason most people say that they prefer Mexican Coke is that it contains real cane sugar instead of corn syrup. But according to this Time article, a study done by Obesity journal found that Mexican Coke did not contain sucrose—the sugar compound contained in cane sugar. So what’s all this hoopla really about? Our best guess: The bottle is cooler and more retro-looking, and anything from a foreign country always has a bit more sex appeal. Mystery solved.

Nevertheless, reading people’s responses is fun, so click through the gallery to find out how people attempted to rationalize a taste different between the two types of Cokes.

[via TIME, NYTimes Magazine]

  • Vicktor

    Nice Story, Cokes will taste differently because of the factories, Not saying that that is bad, but hey it happens. Also give the Polish coke a try, it’s definitely sweeter, not as much carbonation that our US coke. Just my lil opinion lol

  • jeff

    I don’t think Mexican Coke tastes any different, but it is a different experience to drink it. For many of us it reminds us of our childhood when Mom would pick up an 8 pack of bottles from the store. I also like being able to see the small amount of fog at the top of the bottle right after you open one. Is there fog inside a can? maybe, but I can’t see it.

  • Jonathan

    I think the real taste difference is in whether it comes in a glass/plastic/aluminum container…typically…Mexican coke is in glass…

  • jheiss

    I don’t understand why you asked people to try to identify one or the other. Wouldn’t “which one do you prefer” have been a more relevant question? That said, I see 5 people who expressed a preference, 3 for Mexican coke and 2 for American coke. Not an overwhelming vote for Mexican coke, but at least some signal. That jives with the taste test I performed with work colleagues a few years ago, where Mexican and Passover coke (both made with sugar) were soundly preferred over American coke in a blind taste test. The Passover coke came in a 2 liter bottle, and I served all three out of paper cups, which eliminates the “glass bottle is better” theory.

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